So, in the last six months I have met:
- A gentleman who was a Word War 2, 17 year old pb-4y navy aircraft turret gunner who still screams at night for his aircrew.
- A Vietnam vet who lives in a fortified house in the middle of the desert.
- A Korean war vet who survived a crash landing where several of his crew members were killed who can’t board an airplane without anxiety. He broke down while watching the movie Sully.
- Numerous Gulf War 2 participants who startle easily, have continued bad dreams/thoughts and have avoidant behaviors.
- A cancer survivor who fears getting routine imaging and leading up to the event has sleep disorder and anxiety.
For my veterans: After a trauma or life-threatening event, it is common to have reactions such as upsetting memories of the event, increased jumpiness, or trouble sleeping. If these reactions do not go away or if they get worse, you may have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).(www.ptsd.va.gov)
For the cancer patient: Patients may also have feelings of shock, fear, helplessness, or horror. These feelings may lead to cancer-related post-traumatic stress (PTS), which is a lot like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a specific group of symptoms that affect many survivors of stressful events. These events usually involve the threat of death or serious injury to oneself or others. People who have survived military combat, natural disasters, violent personal attack (such as rape), or other life-threatening stress may suffer from PTSD. The symptoms for PTS and PTSD are a lot alike, but most cancer patients are able to cope and don’t develop full PTSD. The symptoms of cancer-related PTS are not as severe and don’t last as long as PTSD. (www.cancer.gov)
All the people mentioned have an experienced life altering events that many have not and it has affected their overall state of well being. No one is immune and if you are having these problems, seek help!! A veteran can turn to the local VA for help, anyone can reach out to a primary care physician for a consultation for counseling. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!